Chapter 1 Priesthood
Aaron and His Sons
Exodus 28:1-4 NLTse “Call for your brother, Aaron, and his sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. Set them apart from the rest of the people of Israel so they may minister to me and be my priests. (2) Make sacred garments for Aaron that are glorious and beautiful. (3) Instruct all the skilled craftsmen whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom. Have them make garments for Aaron that will distinguish him as a priest set apart for my service. (4) These are the garments they are to make: a chestpiece, an ephod, a robe, a patterned tunic, a turban, and a sash. They are to make these sacred garments for your brother, Aaron, and his sons to wear when they serve me as priests.
We have to put ourselves in Moses’ shoes so to speak. That first verse about calling his brother points to something personal. Moses brought his brother, and Aaron’s two sons up that mountain to have dinner with God. They were joined by seventy elders. When we look at the Hebrew word for elder, we see it included both men and women. It seems like they left and went down the mountain when God showed Moses all the details about the Tabernacle.
There Moses saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there seemed to be a surface of brilliant blue lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself. (Exodus 24:10 NLTse). Moses looked up to see a golden box with cherubim on top, facing each other, looking down at the top of the box. Moses walked around the box while God observed his interest and sense of awe. Moses looked at the detail in the wings, faces of the cherubim, and ripples in the robes they wore. Moses looked over at the design along the rim around the top. God smiled as Moses took a step back to take in the view. He bent down to look at the slender legs, then up at the corners of the box.
Moses turned around when God told him the box is made of acacia wood covered in pure gold. God went on to explain how the box is constructed, how the joints are made to hold the corners together, and how the legs fit into the reinforced corners. God explained the cover is made of a single, solid gold piece. God told Moses how the piece is to be designed and cast.
Moses looked at the poles through the rings attached to the four corners. God explained the poles are also made of acacia wood, covered in gold. God explained how the poles are designed so the Ark will not slide on the poles when it is carried. God pointed out the width and thickness of the rings. God also explained how gold used to cover the Ark is to be purified. Then God explained the process Moses must follow to make gold to cover the poles and rings. God explained how to heat the gold, hold it at the required temperature for a time, and when to add one material, wait, then add other materials in exact proportions at the proper time and temperature.
God moved Moses to the table. Moses was impressed with the way the gold shimmered on the simple design. Moses gave the same attention to detail to the simple table he gave to the Ark. The table didn’t take as long to look over. Moses asked, “let me guess, this is also acacia wood covered in gold.” God smiled as He corrected Moses, “pure gold.” God was glad Moses was catching on so quickly. God went over details on the construction of the table like He explained about the Ark.
God showed Moses curtains hanging on the walls. He drew back the curtain to show a golden wall behind it. Moses looked up at the height of the wall. God went into great detail about the material for the curtains and the patterns sown into them. God showed Moses how the curtains were to be made, how many threads per inch, how to reinforce the edges, attach specially designed rings, and how to hang them.
Moses sat in awe as God showed him the supporting walls. How they were notched to fit into the silver bases, slide together, and interlock. Moses took a closer look at the walls. Seams were barely visible on that air tight seam designed to block out the wind. Moses wondered if Noah used the same seam. God showed Moses tools that had to be made and a method of manufacturing pieces to ensure each was exactly like the others. Moses thought, this is going to take some time. There is a lot to remember.
God knew Moses was not the most confident man in the world. Nor was he the wisest man. At times it took Moses longer to understand than it would take the average man. But once Moses understood, there was little that could shake his memory or confidence.
It took over a month for Moses to write down the descriptions God wanted in writing, and those regulations. There were many more details Moses had to dedicate to memory. Exact dimensions, formulas for materials, processes to make those materials, assembly instructions, and many more materials.
God suddenly changed to a new subject. Moses was to set his brother Aaron and his two sons apart from the rest of the people. Only three people were supposed to serve as priests. Since Israel turned down God’s offer to become a kingdom of priests, God had no choice but to go to plan B. From a million priests to three. Talk about slowing down the plan salvation. Who can measure the cost in lives over the generations it took before Jesus ended the Levitical priesthood and showed the world that direct path to God’s throne.
As we look back, we see a list of details God provided to prepare Aaron and his sons for the priesthood. God made a way for Aaron to escape from Egypt and led him straight to Moses. Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.” But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.” Then the LORD became angry with Moses. “All right,” he said. “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he speaks well. And look! He is on his way to meet you now. He will be delighted to see you. Talk to him, and put the words in his mouth. I will be with both of you as you speak, and I will instruct you both in what to do. Aaron will be your spokesman to the people. He will be your mouthpiece, and you will stand in the place of God for him, telling him what to say. (Exodus 4:12-16 NLTse).
Not only did God tell Moses and Aaron everything to say, we see how God was busy arranging details long before Moses asked the question, or cast any shadow of doubt. God made a way for Aaron to leave Egypt and guided Aaron straight to his brother, all with perfect timing. This is an important lesson for a priest to learn. A priest has to have trust God has been working on details to solve problems long before we’re aware it is a problem. When we see how God has been working on details, we owe it to God to tell people about how we were lost and confused before we saw God’s plan clearly revealed. This is what a lot of people call a personal witness. God showed how this process works and the reason for the process at the Red Sea. And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after you. I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD!” So the Israelites camped there as they were told. (Exodus 14:4 NLTse).
All of those things are done for God’s glory. As a priest, our greatest role is glorifying God by telling people what He has done in our lives. We become a personal witness for God which is the definition God placed on the priesthood.
The priesthood began at the Passover when the elders were called together. While the Israelites were still in the land of Egypt, the LORD gave the following instructions to Moses and Aaron: “From now on, this month will be the first month of the year for you. Announce to the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each family must choose a lamb or a young goat for a sacrifice, one animal for each household. Then Moses called all the elders of Israel together and said to them, “Go, pick out a lamb or young goat for each of your families, and slaughter the Passover animal. (Exodus 12:1-3, 21 NLTse).
Israel was instructed to share their personal experience including that event. When you enter the land the LORD has promised to give you, you will continue to observe this ceremony. Then your children will ask, ‘What does this ceremony mean?’ And you will reply, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt. And though he struck the Egyptians, he spared our families.'” When Moses had finished speaking, all the people bowed down to the ground and worshiped. (Exodus 12:25-27 NLTse).
Before God began instructing priests about their roles, He had to get the Egyptian form of worship out of their systems. We’ve seen how God used a series of plagues to teach lessons designed to prepare Israel for the priesthood. Every time we look back, we see a few we’ve missed. As we slowly progress through the step by step process Moses recorded, we can see how they keep pointing us back to specific details.
It takes more than a personal witness to be a priest. Another detail recorded in the process is knowing God tells a priest what to say, when to say it, and who to say it to. This has to be the most difficult aspect of the priesthood to understand. Imagine a priest saying only what God tells them to say. Is there any other way? There are a thousand different ways to be a priest. All of them are variations of Egyptian practices they were supposed to leave in Egypt. God made it very clear – God either controls you, or you control the gods you worship.
God’s form of worship is simple. You tell people your personal experiences with Him. How God set up details that effected and changed your life. Tell people how you learned to trust God. How God communicates with you. How God surprised you. How God blessed you.
The form of worship left behind in Egypt was far different. Priest told people what they needed to do to serve their gods. They had to follow orders from priests appointed by Pharaoh. Their gods didn’t communicate with people. There was no way for their gods to communicate with people – they didn’t exist. The priests set up a form of worship that sounded good, made sense, and everyone believed, but it never led to anything. There was no personal witnessing because there was not relationship between their gods and people.
When Israel turned down God’s offer for a personal relationship, they told God they wanted to go back to the from of worship they learned in Egypt. Everything God taught them was lost. They threw it all away. They placed an enormous burden on Moses. God would have shown every detail about the Tabernacle to the people involved in making each piece. God would have personally instructed each person, but they turned down the offer. Moses had to learn every process to fabricate each piece, all the materials, and designs for each piece. Moses had to, “Instruct all the skilled craftsmen whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom.” Moses had to learn every details on all the priest’s clothing.
Have them make garments for Aaron that will distinguish him as a priest set apart for my service. These are the garments they are to make: a chestpiece, an ephod, a robe, a patterned tunic, a turban, and a sash. They are to make these sacred garments for your brother, Aaron, and his sons to wear when they serve me as priests.
God gave Israel what they wanted. A few priests dressed the way they wanted to see them. But locked away in the high priest’s uniform were symbols they didn’t understand. Symbols generations had to wait to see revealed.
Exodus 28:5-8 NLTse So give them fine linen cloth, gold thread, and blue, purple, and scarlet thread. (6) “The craftsmen must make the ephod of finely woven linen and skillfully embroider it with gold and with blue, purple, and scarlet thread. (7) It will consist of two pieces, front and back, joined at the shoulders with two shoulder-pieces. (8) The decorative sash will be made of the same materials: finely woven linen embroidered with gold and with blue, purple, and scarlet thread.
Priests wore the same colors used to make up the inside of the Tabernacle which showed a connection with it. Those colors served as a reminder of what Israel gave up. People passing and gathering at the entrance of the courtyard could see the colors blue, purple, and scarlet, but they didn’t see much of the gold. Not even when the Tabernacle was taken down to be transported. For forty years gold reminded Israel of the treasure they passed up. All they saw from the outside was brass.
I actually had to look up the word linen to see what details the Hebrew word adds. It describes linen as a bleached white cloth. The first item described for the priest was a simple white linen garment called an ephod. The ephod had the same colors sown into the borders as the courtyard and curtains inside the Tabernacle. Gold was also used as an accent. God had a reason for repeating the colors, and using them on the priest’s garments. People were shown a taste of what is inside the Tabernacle, but never saw the complete picture.
It’s the same now when people follow the old ways of the priesthood God introduced as a plan B. Whenever people depend on someone to talk to God for them, they miss the best parts, the wonders inside the room where Jesus waits to meet you. They miss the meal, conversation, the way light from the lamps dance off the walls, and show off detailed patterns on the inner curtains. They miss details Jesus has to tell you about your life. How He wants you to reach out to others, the endless love He offers you. The love that should flow through you to others. You miss the gifts He’s prepared for you. The gift of knowledge, wisdom, learning, prophecy, sharing, loving, healing, charity, patience, all the wonders in the universe, and locked in His Word. Like the priest’s garment, we see a small part of that gold, but miss out on the majority of the splendor.
Looking back on personal experiences, I can see how personal testimonies are one of the easiest way to distinguish God’s priests from people playing the role because it’s a job. As a matter of fact, God put me in a position to see the contrast in a big way.
The week almost drove me nuts. I was quickly reaching a breaking point. I had to often stop and question my faith in God. How could I say I trusted God and worry at the same time? I called one of the pastors I work with and asked if it was okay if me moved the phone away from his ear for a few seconds so I could scream. The problem I was having concerned the sale of my house. What appeared to me as a five minute task consumed an entire week. Parties involved did what people do best. Pointed fingers and claimed it wasn’t their job. All I needed was a simple email answered from either one person or the other. It dragged on until the last minute.
Sure I prayed. Sure I tried to convince myself God was in control of the whole situation. Sure I was frustrated and talked out loud to God asking why I couldn’t get this person or the other to do such a simple task. Sure I came up with a dozen ways to solve the problem and a plan B, C, and D just in case things didn’t work out. The fact of the matter was, the little problem over whelmed my mind, caused me undo stress to the point I was exhausted at the end of the day, and was physically effecting me. I wasn’t planning meals, forgot to pay one bill, damn those late charges, I found my concentration wasn’t at a top level while driving or other times of the day. How can you be a Christian and worry like that? At least I was smart enough to look back at the whole lesson.
A friend called me and asked me to attend a meeting with a few pastors interested in Real Estate investing. I agreed. Later she asked me to pick her up. It wasn’t that far out of the way. I got to her office where she told me, she needed a ride downtown to pay her taxes. I hate going downtown. She may as well have asked me to cut off a finger. We hopped in the car and drove downtown a few minutes before rush hour. She called to let the pastors know we would be late for the meeting.
We got to city hall and found a parking space right in front of the door. It was a wide parking space I pulled into in one attempt. She ran in to pay her taxes. I sat and watched a woman in a smaller car trying to parallel park in a larger space in front of me. She kept turning her wheels the wrong way time after time. She got out of the car and told me I should move so she could use two spaces to pull into. I was on the phone and ignored her.
We were on the road and on our way to the meeting with five minutes to spare. We were five minutes a head of rush hour traffic, a few thousand cars, many of them with the same attitude as the woman parking in front of me. The ride was smooth and we made it on time. The other pastors was late. We sat down with one of the pastors and talked about how we saw God working in our lives that week.
The other pastor was a real contrast to the first at the meeting. The second pastor wanted to purchase a house next to his church. He bragged about the value of his church and how much money it brought in along with how long he’s been in business. The list price on the property was $4000. The hang up and reason for the meeting was, it was a city owned property, and the city will sell some properties to nonprofit organizations for $1. The pastor who wanted to buy the house never filed as a nonprofit, but bragged he never paid taxes. He got into a few details I questioned. I asked a few questions to gauge some views on scripture. He flip flopped on views and subjects.
We explained how to apply as a nonprofit so he could buy the property for $1. But the man kept arguing he knew more than the other people at the meeting. The other pastor purchased a number of properties from the city for $1 based on his nonprofit status. After more than an hour the goals of the pastor who wanted to buy the $4000 house became evident. I tried introducing a few facts and figures to he could figure out the big picture.
The city would most likely accept $3000 for the house. The city would pay the real estate agent who asked me to attend the meeting $1500. So he is actually paying the city $1500 for the house. To file for a nonprofit status to buy the house for $1, he would have to pay the federal government $850 and an accountant $250 to file out the 19 page nonprofit application. I charge $500 for that service. Normal fees for that service range from $800 to over $2000.
Fact of the matter was, the man would have to invest $1100 to buy the house for $1. It boiled down to a simple choice. He could buy the house next to his church that week, the real estate agent would get paid, and he would not run the risk of loosing the house. But to save himself $399, he was willing to wait a few months to file as a nonprofit and ask the real estate agent to donate her time for free.
The man couldn’t make any sense out of what I was trying to explain. He was too filled with self to see how he was taking advantage of the agent trying to help him. He didn’t care he was wasting our time by bragging about all his achievements. I called an end to the meeting, walked out with the other agent and told her, “I could never work with that one pastor. I’ve worked with too many investors with that mentality, and when he said saving $399 was more important than seeing you get paid $1500 showed me exactly where his mind was stuck.”
The real contrast was how that meeting began, praising God as we shared what He did for us that week, and how it ended, a pastor bragging about what he did and what he plans on doing. I suddenly saw, God showed me how His priests will always have a personal testimony to share as a witness. But make believe priests, carbon copies of those priests in Egypt will testify about their accomplishments. That is exactly what those priests and magicians did in Pharaoh’s court, showed off what they could accomplish.
Exodus 28:9-14 NLTse “Take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the tribes of Israel. (10) Six names will be on each stone, arranged in the order of the births of the original sons of Israel. (11) Engrave these names on the two stones in the same way a jeweler engraves a seal. Then mount the stones in settings of gold filigree. (12) Fasten the two stones on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod as a reminder that Aaron represents the people of Israel. Aaron will carry these names on his shoulders as a constant reminder whenever he goes before the LORD. (13) Make the settings of gold filigree, (14) then braid two cords of pure gold and attach them to the filigree settings on the shoulders of the ephod.
The simple ephod is followed by none other than a set of onyx stones engraved with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Six names are on each stone. Looking back a few verses and we can see the family connection God is setting. Moses was to call his brother Aaron. The onyx stones have the names of twelve brothers. This served as a reminder, we all all brothers in God’s eyes. To Christians it’s supposed to remind us, we are all brothers in Christ.
God could have easily engraved those stones Himself and given them to Moses to carry down that mountain with him. But God wanted someone to work on placing each letter into those stones. This showed the work involved to make every man a brother, and see how God loves all of them. God expects us to put an effort in. How difficult could it be to tell people about the experiences you had with God?
Look at all the examples in Exodus. God repeated Himself for a reason. So we wouldn’t miss the lesson. He performs those miracles in our lives so we can share His wonderful deeds with others. And lead them to God. Then He preforms more miracles in their lives, they tell other people, and lead more people to God. It’s such a simple process. How could it do anything but succeed? No one could come up with an easier plan. But what happened with to that plan?
People seem afraid to share, or they don’t know how to share. They may not see how God blessed them, or don’t take time to look back at all the details God had to arrange for a certain event to turn out the way it did. Why don’t Christians teach people how to witness?
Some do. The problem is, they teach it the wrong way. They don’t rely on what’s taught in the Bible, but rely on plans conceived in a boardroom. Moses recorded what God told him what to write. God kept telling Moses to look back over details. God pointed Moses all the way back to a prophecy Abraham received four hundred years before Moses showed up in Pharaoh’s court. If Moses looked back four hundred years, shouldn’t we teach people to look back four days or weeks? What has God done in your life you should be telling people about? The godly will see these things and be glad, while the wicked are struck silent. Those who are wise will take all this to heart; they will see in our history the faithful love of the LORD. (Psalms 107:42-43 NLTse).
Those onyx stones served as a reminder. A reminder of what? I think we can find the answer by looking a little deeper into the text. In this case, using a different translation may help. And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel: (Exodus 28:9 KJV).
Before we begin diving into the onyx stones, I’d like to look at one of the colors used throughout the Tabernacle. The word to describe the color scarlet actually refers to worm found in the manna when people tried saving it for the next day. That worm was used to extract red dye.
According to the Hebrew translation, the onyx stone is a pale green color. We haven’t seen that color used in the Tabernacle yet. The color would stand out based on the fact it is rare in the Tabernacle. The word grave, or engrave has an interesting definition.
Engrave (grave) H6605 פּתח pâthach
A primitive root; to open wide (literally or figuratively); specifically to loosen, begin, plough, carve: – appear, break forth, draw (out), let go free, (en-) grave (-n), loose (self), (be, beset) open (-ing), put off, ungird, unstop, have vent.
The word used to set the names in the onyx stones refers back to the freedom Israel received by leaving Egypt. As we’ve seen, there is a physical and spiritual freedom involved. As usual, the physical freedom was easy to accept and appreciate. On the other hand, that spiritual freedom required a lot more thought and understanding. I’d have to say, if you think your capable of explaining that freedom, you have not experienced any measure of the spiritual freedom God offered Israel.
We also see one translation used the word tribes, while another used children. The actual Hebrew word is derived from a number of other words which include, son, daughter, branch, nephew, and a long list of relatives. That Hebrew word also included calf, lamb, and other new born animals. This reminds me of another story in the Bible. Then the LORD said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?” (Jonah 4:10-11 NLTse). God just doesn’t stop caring for those animals.
God had His own way of fastening those onyx stones to the breastplate, or ephod. Some people insist those two stones were part of the breastplate. Here Moses said they were fastened on the shoulders of the ephod using gold chains or threads depending on the translation. Once again we have to avoid jumping ahead to define symbols. Gold was used to hold the two stones with the twelve names of Israel’s children to the ephod worn by the high priest. The gold chains wrapped around the high priest to hold those stones in place. There should be enough there to think about.
Exodus 28:15-29 NLTse “Then, with great skill and care, make a chestpiece to be worn for seeking a decision from God. Make it to match the ephod, using finely woven linen embroidered with gold and with blue, purple, and scarlet thread. (16) Make the chestpiece of a single piece of cloth folded to form a pouch nine inches square. (17) Mount four rows of gemstones on it. The first row will contain a red carnelian, a pale green peridot, and an emerald. (18) The second row will contain a turquoise, a blue lapis lazuli, and a white moonstone. (19) The third row will contain an orange jacinth, an agate, and a purple amethyst. (20) The fourth row will contain a blue-green beryl, an onyx, and a green jasper. All these stones will be set in gold filigree. (21) Each stone will represent one of the twelve sons of Israel, and the name of that tribe will be engraved on it like a seal. (22) “To attach the chestpiece to the ephod, make braided cords of pure gold thread. (23) Then make two gold rings and attach them to the top corners of the chestpiece. (24) Tie the two gold cords to the two rings on the chestpiece. (25) Tie the other ends of the cords to the gold settings on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod. (26) Then make two more gold rings and attach them to the inside edges of the chestpiece next to the ephod. (27) And make two more gold rings and attach them to the front of the ephod, below the shoulder-pieces, just above the knot where the decorative sash is fastened to the ephod. (28) Then attach the bottom rings of the chestpiece to the rings on the ephod with blue cords. This will hold the chestpiece securely to the ephod above the decorative sash. (29) “In this way, Aaron will carry the names of the tribes of Israel on the sacred chestpiece over his heart when he goes into the Holy Place. This will be a continual reminder that he represents the people when he comes before the LORD.
Then God gave Moses the design of a very important piece. It was called the breastplate. God told Moses it was used to seek God’s decision. It seems strange Moses listed that detail without going into an explanation. How did God provide answers and counsel through a breastplate? At this point, we don’t know. The fact Moses didn’t record the exact process is another reminder of what Israel gave up. So much of the Tabernacle became a mystery.
I’ve read some descriptions of the breastplate, but few of them seem to match the description Moses recorded. The breastplate was made to match the ephod. It was the same color and decorated with the same color thread. The breastplate was actually made to be a pouch. At this point, we’re not told what that pouch held.
Mounted on the front of that linen breastplate were twelve stones, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Again we see the theme of brothers and family repeated. This time each is represented by a single stone. Some people jump ahead to make a comparison to the twelve foundations for the New City Jerusalem.
The wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The wall of the city was built on foundation stones inlaid with twelve precious stones: the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. (Revelation 21:14, 19-20 NLTse).
As we can see, the foundations for New Jerusalem represents the apostles. Although some of the stones are the same, others are different. This shows how you can’t assume one symbol explains another. There isn’t much of a comparison between the Tabernacle and the City of New Jerusalem. The two sets of gemstones show two very important groups of people who cannot be connected by time or the roles they served in the plan of salvation. If anything, a review of those lives will show how each person had individual needs, desires, expectations, attributes, and short comings.
Looking at Jacob’s sons, we see a long list of mistakes they made. You can review those stories on your own. Some people claim Joseph was near perfect. Compared to his brothers, that may be a somewhat accurate description. But when it came to marriage, Joseph may have made the biggest mistake. Then Pharaoh gave Joseph a new Egyptian name, Zaphenath-paneah. He also gave him a wife, whose name was Asenath. She was the daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On. So Joseph took charge of the entire land of Egypt. (Genesis 41:45 NLTse). We really shouldn’t judge if marrying an Egyptian woman, the daughter of a priest was a good or bad thing for Joseph. We do see repeated problems with the tribes that came from Joseph’s two sons, known as half tribes. David also told us something about Joseph and his influence in Egypt. Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the LORD tested Joseph’s character. Then Pharaoh sent for him and set him free; the ruler of the nation opened his prison door. Joseph was put in charge of all the king’s household; he became ruler over all the king’s possessions. He could instruct the king’s aides as he pleased and teach the king’s advisers. (Psalms 105:19-22 NLTse).
Joseph was placed in a position to teach. About what? When we look at the story, we can see Joseph taught the people how to collect and store grain. He also could teach them about God. But when we look at the outcome of the stories four hundred years later, not even Joseph had much of an influence.
The apostles followed a different course in life. Their stories began when Jesus found them and told them to follow. Like Jacob’s son’s, some of the apostles are little more than named. Little is known about them.
This is one of those points where we have to step back from a study to see where we are, and where we’re headed. What we did is entered into the land called rabbit hole theology. It’s named rabbit hole theology because it is like hunting a rabbit by jumping from hole to hole. You have no idea where the rabbit is, or where it will pop up. Rabbits live in a series of underground caverns with a number of openings designed to confuse and frustrate the hunter, who never seems to catch the rabbit. Bible study that jumps from subject to subject may seem like it is going somewhere, but never accomplished the intended goal.
Getting back to the breastplate, we see another detail it has in common with the onyx stones. Both are tied around the priest’s body with gold chains or threads. We also see the names of Jacob’s sons engraved in the stones. Some of those gems are known for their hardness. Diamonds are known for cutting glass. Rubies and sapphires are used for high pressure water jet cutting machines. Gemstones are hard and difficult to engrave. This not only took a great amount of skill, but the right tools. Ordinary steel tools would not have been able to do the job. Many history scholars like to claim to know the exact dates man progressed from wood, to stone, bronze, then iron, or steel weapons. I’ve seen some preachers apply that type of theology to the statue in Daniel’s book. I guess that theory has a few holes in it. Preachers will use the progression from bronze to iron weapons, but that kind of thinking falls apart when you ask them if the previous kingdoms used silver and gold weapons. Fact of the matter is, iron is mentioned in the Bible before the flood. Lamech’s other wife, Zillah, gave birth to a son named Tubal-cain. He became an expert in forging tools of bronze and iron. Tubal-cain had a sister named Naamah. (Genesis 4:22 NLTse). So either the Bible is wrong or historians are making up stories.
God had to show Moses how to make special alloys and tools to engrave those gemstones. This brings up another detail a million people missed out on by rejecting God’s offer. Think of how God could have provided advanced technology to Israel if they would have kept communication channels open. When we shut the door on God, we have no idea what we are giving up.
Moses went into a great amount of detail about how the breastplate is fastened to the high priest’s body. When we look at the order described by Moses, the breastplate covered the cords that held the onyx stones to the high priest. There is a built in double layer of protection. “In this way, Aaron will carry the names of the tribes of Israel on the sacred chestpiece over his heart when he goes into the Holy Place. This will be a continual reminder that he represents the people when he comes before the LORD.”
Insert the Urim and Thummim into the sacred chestpiece so they will be carried over Aaron’s heart when he goes into the LORD’s presence. In this way, Aaron will always carry over his heart the objects used to determine the LORD’s will for his people whenever he goes in before the LORD.(Exodus 28:30 NLTse). The Urim and Thummim are believed to be the special stones God used to answer questions. Many people believe the Urim and Thummim are names for the two onyx stones. But Moses said the Urim and Thummim covered Aaron’s heart. Those two stones were somehow placed in the chestpiece. Does that mean they were carried in the pouch? When we consider the facts, placing the Urim and Thummim inside that pouch seem to be the only explanation. Why are those stones placed inside the pouch? God keeps adding details people gave up on trying to understand. The Hebrew word Urim means fire or fiery glow. Thummim means perfection. The two words together give us a hint of how God used stones to communicate.
Exodus 28:31-35 NLTse “Make the robe that is worn with the ephod from a single piece of blue cloth, (32) with an opening for Aaron’s head in the middle of it. Reinforce the opening with a woven collar so it will not tear. (33) Make pomegranates out of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn, and attach them to the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them. (34) The gold bells and pomegranates are to alternate all around the hem. (35) Aaron will wear this robe whenever he ministers before the LORD, and the bells will tinkle as he goes in and out of the LORD’s presence in the Holy Place. If he wears it, he will not die.
Moses moved to a description of the outer robe worn by the high priest. When we look at the description thus far, some of the details appear strange. The robe is made of a single piece of blue cloth. We’re not told what shade of blue it was. It has an opening at the top for Aaron to put his head through. When we look back at the previous verses, we see the onyx stones and breastplate are attached to the ephod. The Hebrew word for ephod in the Old English sense is girdle, which is worn on the inside, against the body. The Hebrew word for robe means covering. Based on the description given thus far, the blue robe with an opening at the top for Aaron’s head would have completely covered the onyx stones and breastplate.
This is far different than other descriptions I’ve read and all the artist’s conceptions showing how Aaron was dressed. All of them show the breastplate on the outside, and often show the robe as an open robe, designed much like a modern bath robe.
Moses added a strange detail about that robe. The collar was sown and reinforced so it would not tear. The collar was an important part of the design for a reason. If we jump ahead to a few verses we can see why.
Jesus replied, “You have said it. And in the future you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?” “Guilty!” they shouted. “He deserves to die!” Then they began to spit in Jesus’ face and beat him with their fists. And some slapped him, jeering, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who hit you that time?” (Matthew 26:64-68 NLTse).
They asked Jesus to prophecy to them. It seems He already did when the high priest tore open the outer robe to revel the breastplate, a reminder why God is supposed to be consulted on matters of life and death. It was a symbol showing what happens when we put someone between us and God. Eventually people will do everything to lead us away from God while making gods of themselves. That’s the way of the world. When power goes to their heads, it seems like nothing can stop them. That concept was illustrated in Jesus’ ministry that eventually resulted in the loss of His life at the hands of the priests who claimed to be working for God.
For me, this also revealed another important lesson. The day after I wrote this, I went to one of the Bible Studies I attend. The pastor was covering the subject of family structure in scripture. While he was talking, I was suddenly able to put two and two together. When the high priest tore open his robe at Jesus’ trial, he exposed the names representing God’s family. It was something Jesus needed at that moment. Without knowing it, the high priest created a parallel between his torn robe and the torn vail in the temple. The priest opened a view of God’s family and the torn vail represented a direct path to God’s throne for His family.
The lesson didn’t stop there. I have three books where I described that breastplate on the outside of the rode and assumed the high priest didn’t wear the breastplate to Jesus’ trial because he didn’t want to hear God’s opinion. In those books I described a scene where the priest was able to rip that robe because he wasn’t wearing the breastplate. I made the mistake because I was writing based on what I was taught by other people. Take a look at the Internet. Every picture shows the breastplate on the outside of the robe. Moses told us the breastplate is fastened to the ephod or undergarment covered by the robe. This shows how we have to be careful with all the details we’re taught in this world.
This reminded me of another past experience. I was invited to a website to become a so called Bible worker or teacher. The site was run by one of the best known pastors in the church. He was well respected, received invitations to speak all over the world, and paid well for his ministry. The online course consisted of the usual set of doctrines, an explanation, and a supporting verse or two. I read each course and answered the questions at the end, in my own words. I received a series of correspondence from the teachers and directors on that site, telling me to answer the questions from the explanations and verses provided. Their goal was to create a form of unity where everyone gave the same answers. They were breading a set of clones, each person following the direction of that single pastor. They didn’t want people to think. In their minds, there was only one lesson to learn and one correct answer to each question. In reality what they were doing was eliminating God’s Spirit from the process of Bible Study, replacing the Spirit with that one man’s opinion. The church and many people in it praised that pastor for his idea and concept, to blindly follow one man, with one opinion, and one answer. It seems to me, Jesus died to put an end to that type of priesthood. The type of priesthood that puts a man between them and God.
Along the bottom of the robe were a series of designs. Pomegranates were sown in using blue, purple, and scarlet thread. In between the pomegranates were bells so people could hear when Aaron went inside the Tabernacle and when he came out. Moses added another strange detail. “If he wears it, he will not die.” Since this is placed so close to the bells, I would think the sound of the bells was what Moses was drawing attention to.
There was a world wide event, one of the last world wide spiritual revivals. William Miller was given the gift to interpret time prophecies. That was a study all it’s own. If is very focused on the relationship between a number of time prophecies found throughout the Bible. When Miller put those prophecies on a chart, he was able to see a starting point, and an ending point. Once dates were established, Miller saw how prophecies in the Bible indicated time periods between one event and another.
Before Miller could put together his chart, he had to unravel a number of hidden prophecies. He was able to understand a number of prophecies that provided answers to other prophecies, such as a day represents a year, and a month consisted of thirty days. Those are concepts Miller used and are still accepted today by most denominations.
There were a few mistakes Miller made. One mistake centered around the switch from the Hebrew calender, and the one we use today which looks at dates as BC and AD. That mistake shot the date off by a year. The other mistake Miller made is when he interpreted the Sanctuary. Instead of the Heavenly Sanctuary, Miller was convinced the earth was the Sanctuary. That was a big mistake that made Miller preach the wrong message. He was certain those time prophecies pointed to Jesus’ return and the cleansing of the earth. It wasn’t until after the date in October of 1844, Miller saw in scripture, another man saw the Sanctuary being cleansed was in fact the Heavenly Sanctuary.
Hiram Edson saw a vision as he passed through his corn field shortly after what is referred to as the 1844 disappointment. He was given a clear vision of Heaven where he saw Christ entering into the Most Holy apartment in the Sanctuary. Miller’s dates were accurate, but his interpretation was all wrong.
We can see a distinct connection between the hidden stones, the Urim and Thummim, and Miller’s experience. Some things are still hidden, to be revealed only by God when He decides to reveal details. It also served as a reminder showing how dangerous it is to rely on one man.
Many of the details Miller discovered and published are still used today. Some denominations tore apart Miller’s work, using some parts, and throwing others away. But the basic concepts used to study time prophecies have not changed much in the past 150 plus years. But we still face the same problems. It seems the warnings about relying on men to replace a personal relationship with Christ are for the most part, still ignored. Another thing bothers me about that event. Those bells were eventually heard load and clear when Jesus entered the Most Holy place in the Sanctuary. But no one seems to be listening for those bells when He leaves.
Another thing seems to bother me as far as prophecies are concerned. To a large degree it seems this world places its trust in the hands of a few men to interpret prophecies. Most of those men have one interpretation one week, then swing to a totally different interpretation the next week. I’ve also noticed the wide spread use of the proof texts method used to interpret prophecies. Take a single text and use your imagination to come up with an interpretation. Miller’s time studies were far different. Miller used a number of texts to prove the significance of time periods. Miller showed how prophecies are repeated in different books of the Bible and how one chapter explains details not found in other chapters. Miller also made use of the stories those prophecies are recorded in to gain an understanding of what the prophecies pointed to.
Since this book is based on using the sequence recorded in the Bible, I can see another consideration of those materials used in that statue in Daniel. The materials follow a similar pattern to the materials used in the Tabernacle. The head of the statue was made of fine gold. Its chest and arms were silver, its belly and thighs were bronze, its legs were iron, and its feet were a combination of iron and baked clay. (Daniel 2:32-33 NLTse).
The inner part of the Tabernacle consists of gold and silver. Bronze is used in the courtyard. We haven’t seen iron or clay used in the design of the Tabernacle. As we go further away from the Most Holy, we move from gold, to silver, then bronze. The statue in Daniel concerned a time prophecy. Gold represented Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom, Babylon. Silver represented the Persian empire, bronze the Greek empire, and iron the Roman empire.
Now look at the materials in that statue in relationship to the influence and timing of God’s Word and communication with this world. Prophets like Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah were sent during Babylon’s reign as a world kingdom. The Persian empire saw a group of prophets that included Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and others. How many prophets did the next kingdom of bronze see? None. The Greek empire introduced the Greek translation of the Old Testament which was distributed throughout the known world. Two major factions sprang up, Greek and Hebrew theologians. Each were divided into many sub groups and cultures. The two main groups battled over the right to translate symbols in the Bible. Both groups agreed the Bible contained hidden meanings, but couldn’t agree on what they pointed to. Both groups missed the true meaning of scripture, the Messiah and plan of salvation those stories and symbols pointed to.
This all was a reminder not to place trust in men. Hundreds and maybe thousands of the greatest and most trusted minds in the world at that time pumped out interpretations faster than popcorn in hot oil, but not one of them was true. Not one of those men understood the plan of salvation.
That brings us to the forth world kingdom. The one represented by iron, a material not found in the Tabernacle. Neither was any of the philosophy preached and accepted at that time. Hebrews focused in on one type of Messiah, for a large part, they agreed upon. Greeks took a left turn concentrating on a mixture of Old Testament theology, the philosophy Greek religion was founded on, and nature, elements, and astrology. That was the kingdom of iron, a mixture of elements that had nothing to do with the plan of salvation the Tabernacle pointed to.
Jesus came to this world and angels were amazed no one knew. The Bible tells us about two prophets who met Jesus when He was dedicated in the temple. In addition to that, we’re told about a few wise men who saw a star in the sky and knew enough from the Old Testament to know something was happening, a King was about to be born. The rest of the world was in the dark because they lacked the personal relationship with God and His Spirit to understand scripture and God’s timing. The world relied on men of wisdom and failed.
This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:25-29 NLTse).
As we progress to the toes on that statue, we see how fractured the world really is. They consist of a mixture of iron and clay. Most people accept the interpretation those toes represent a type of division. But little does the world know, nor accept the fact, no where does the Bible mention a single word about ten toes. But twice the Bible pointed out twelve toes. See 2 Samuel 21 and 1 Chronicles 20. Now when we look at twelve toes, we have a few items to compare them to. Jacob had twelve sons. Their names were worn by the high priest. There were also twelve disciples Jesus called. What do twelve toes represent?
Most people like to tell a story someone made up about Rome and the ten nations that represented that kingdom. Historians say Rome consisted of about forty six countries during it’s reign as a world. Those countries have since divided into about eighty five self governed countries, and some of those countries are still subdividing today. Who came up with that interpretation claiming Rome consisted of only ten countries? I don’t know about you, but either those people are wrong, or they are telling us God forgot a few. Correct me if I’m wrong, but if those toes represent the last days, wouldn’t God provide an accurate count if those toes did represent modern day countries?
What avenues do twelve toes open up? When we compare the number of divisions to the family system recorded in the Bible, and the team of disciples Jesus started out with, we open doors to a spiritual interpretation pointing back to Genesis and Exodus, which is where our attention should be focused, on God’s Word, not the world. When we look to the world for answers, based on history, we stand a 99% or better chance of being wrong. God recorded over three hundred prophecies about His Son. How many of them did the Hebrews and Greeks get right?
Medallion of Pure Gold
Exodus 28:36-38 NLTse “Next make a medallion of pure gold, and engrave it like a seal with these words: HOLY TO THE LORD. (37) Attach the medallion with a blue cord to the front of Aaron’s turban, where it must remain. (38) Aaron must wear it on his forehead so he may take on himself any guilt of the people of Israel when they consecrate their sacred offerings. He must always wear it on his forehead so the LORD will accept the people.
All I can say is, stick to the plan. Follow the order God recorded those items and symbols, and wait for God to reveal each one. Otherwise, we are joining the world by jumping around out of sequence, order, and control.
Once again, it appears Moses is out of sequence. We haven’t see any details about the turban. It hasn’t been mentioned since verse 4, and Moses hasn’t described it yet. The turban is a type of hat worn on the head. Here Moses is describing a medallion made of pure gold Aaron attached to the turban. Some how that medallion took on the guilt of the people. What guilt? Was it guilt from sins, or guilt from turning down God’s offer to be a kingdom or priests. We can’t be sure at this point.
Exodus 28:39-43 NLTse “Weave Aaron’s patterned tunic from fine linen cloth. Fashion the turban from this linen as well. Also make a sash, and decorate it with colorful embroidery. (40) “For Aaron’s sons, make tunics, sashes, and special head coverings that are glorious and beautiful. (41) Clothe
your brother, Aaron, and his sons with these garments, and then anoint and ordain them. Consecrate them so they can serve as my priests. (42) Also make linen undergarments for them, to be worn next to their bodies, reaching from their hips to their thighs. (43) These must be worn whenever Aaron and his sons enter the Tabernacle or approach the altar in the Holy Place to perform their priestly duties. Then they will not incur guilt and die. This is a permanent law for Aaron and all his descendants after him.
It may appear Moses is adding another piece of clothing to the list. But the sentences that follow mirror the introduction. The first few sentences introduce items of clothing Aaron wore. The last few sum up the list. This is another important Bible Study tool known and the rule of introductions and summations. When the Bible was subdivided into chapters and verses, chapters contained the same key thought, or lesson. The beginning of each chapter introduced the main theme. The end or of each chapter summed up the lesson or story. This pattern is consistent throughout the Bible. But sometimes the introduction and summation are contrasts. They look at the lesson or story using different aspects. Which showed how God takes a balanced look at each subject. Something we often fail to do. Many of the lessons in scripture are taught using contrasts. It is something to watch for and learn from. Many people have a difficult time understanding the Bible because they’ve been taught to look at contrasts as contradictions. Which is another reason not to trust too many people when it comes to studying and understanding salvation.
Moses also provided a brief description of the garments made for Aaron’s sons. One feature sticks out. They’re supposed to wear a type of underwear worn next to the skin. This may not seem unusual except for the closing statement in this chapter. These must be worn whenever Aaron and his sons enter the Tabernacle or approach the altar in the Holy Place to perform their priestly duties. Then they will not incur guilt and die. This is a permanent law for Aaron and all his descendants after him. Since when does wearing undergarments save a life? In this case it does. Moses didn’t tells us why. He was just following directions from God.